The sleek, aerodynamic Aerostar concept vehicle is a sneak preview of Ford's new mini-van, due out in 1985. The rear-drive van seats seven and has a one-ton payload. Ford predicts EPA mileage of up to 40 mpg, highway. Production Aerostar vans will closely resemble the concept vehicle, but they will differ in details such as grille and headlights.
Ford gave mini-van watchers a glimpse of the small van it plans
for 1985 introduction when it unveiled the Aerostar concept vehicle
recently. The company conﬁrmed that the new van will be smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic, and more fuel efficient than Ford's present full-size van.
Two versions will be offered: a commercial van and a station-wagon type that seats seven in a two-two-three arrangement.
One of the more interesting chassis
details is a rear-drive axle, which is
contrary to the way Chrysler and some
imports build their small vans. “Front-
wheel drive has some drawbacks we
wanted to avoid in our small van,"
says Phil Benton. Ford sales vice-
president. “Aerostar is rated to carry
a 2,000-pound load inside or to pull a
trailer up to 5,000 pounds in weight."
Benton also points out the beneﬁts to
the driver of having the engine in front
(in contrast to some imports): “We
think some van buyers like the idea
of having an engine ahead of them if
there is an accident. Also, the driver
and front-seat passenger do not have
to climb over the front wheel wells to
get into the cab, as in mid-engine
[Toyota] and rear-engine [Volkswagen]
‘Three engines will be offered: 2.3-liter (140-cu.-in.) four-cylinder and
2.6-liter (159-cu.-in.) V6 gasoline types
and a turbo-diesel four. With a ﬁve-speed manual transmission, the four-cylinder gas engine is expected to
deliver EPA fuel economy of 30 mpg
in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.
A four-speed automatic imported from
Germany will be optional.
Aerostar is 174.9 inches long, with
a 119-inch wheelbase. The long wheel-
base is important for ride; it prevents
the pitching that occurs when a stiff
suspension is set in a short span.
That's why Aerostar’s rear wheels are
set so near the rear of the body.
Aerodynamics is stressed in the
body shape, though the production Aerostar will be less dramatic in appearance than the concept vehicle.
Also, the production vehicle’s windows
will be recessed slightly and not be
completely ﬂush as shown on the concept vehicle.
The shaped lens for the headlights
will be foregone in favor of conventional rectangular lamps with almost
ﬁat lenses. And look for the production grille to be more open for better engine cooling.
Ford will continue to produce its
full-size van and sell it alongside the
Aerostar. With that arrangement, the
new van is expected to be priced below
the full-size model.